A practical, inspiring guest post by author Rob Guthrie: a great writer, a positive, supportive friend, and a smart man who knows his stuff. Here’s what he has to say about his self-publishing journey so far.
10. You are the boss. The traditional publishing route means you are kindly asked to get out of the driver’s seat and climb into the back. Nope, you don’t even get to ride shotgun (that’s your agent). After all, you’ve sold the rights to your book.
As an Indie, you are in charge. You want the heroine to die at the end because you believe it makes a much more profound novel? No problem. The cover scheme makes you proud and you want to keep it exactly as it is? You keep the cover. You believe that book needs every one of its one hundred and forty-thousand words? It does. It’s your book. Period. It releases when you say it does. The price is the price you set. Every penny goes to YOU.
You’re Tony F. Soprano, baby!
9. You are ALL the employees. Unless you are independently wealthy and plan to sink a LOT of money into your book before you ever see enough sales to recoup a fraction of the cash, you are also the following people in your business’s organizational chart:
• Cover Designer (unless you pay for the service)
• Editor (unless you pay for the service—and you SHOULD)
• Proofreader (unless you pay for the service—and you SHOULD)
• Social Marketing Expert (Yes, you need to learn a lot more than simply how to post photographs on Facebook and tweet about your lilies blooming early this year—assuming you have accounts on any of these networks in the first place!)
• Board of Directors (YOU make decisions on price point, which printer to use, whether to join Amazon KDP Select or distribute the book beyond Amazon’s borders, how to advertise, how much to spend, what to say about your book, what not to say, etc.)
• Statistician (YOU must analyze the numbers: which ads worked or didn’t work, and why; which cross-promotional campaigns succeeded and why; what level of tweeting is enough without becoming a spammer or, worse, white noise)
• Miscellaneous (There are a lot of employees in an organization who don’t have a particular title, or who do many, many things beyond what their title implies. You are them and they are you.)
8. Everyone is your friend. The Indie collective of writers can be an outstanding group of supporters for your book. Remember, writers are also readers. You shouldn’t count on this group as a significant market for sales, but you will sell some of your books to other authors. The problem is, ninety percent of your Twitter followers and your Facebook friends and your LinkedIn contacts will be fellow writers. This is not always a bad thing.
Take advantage of cross-promotion. Cross-promotion is when you scratch one back (or several) and they scratch yours. This is one of your strongest tools. There are plenty of readers out there. The challenge is finding them, and you can benefit greatly from using your network of peers to help you spread the word (as long as you are willing to help them spread the word as well).
7. Not everyone is your friend. Okay, so that contradicts number eight, but you didn’t really believe everyone was your friend, did you? There are a few Indies of whom you should beware:
→ Willing to assist you as long as … the ratio of you assisting them is somewhere in the neighborhood of 50:1. Don’t laugh. They’re out there, and they are as good as any cult leader at gathering enough worker bees to push them to the top. You know what happens to worker bees, right?
→ Willing to assist you until … you succeed and they don’t. You see them in life, why would you think the Indie writing community is any different? They are in it for themselves, not out of any altruistic feelings or partnership goals. Keep your eyes open for the knife.
→ Flakes. They aren’t mean-spirited, just too busy to help out, so you do all the heavy lifting. We all flake sometimes: get too busy, overcommit. I’m talking about chronic flakes. Avoid working with them.
6. The mountain is so very high. Mount Everest. Inarguably the most difficult mountain in the world to summit. You can be the best mountaineer in existence, but so many of the conditions of success are completely out of your control. I saw a climb on television once where well-prepared, skilled climbers died for one inexcusable reason: a group of unseasoned climbers tried to summit that same day and clogged the way up and down. Everyone froze to death—experienced and inexperienced. Nothing could be done. The market grows exponentially every day—at least Everest remains the same elevation.
4. You won’t succeed. Not at first. That’s a near absolute guarantee. It takes time, as do all good things. Patience in the book market is not a virtue, it’s a RAW NECESSITY.
3. You will question yourself again. Patience is tough. We are a society that needs instant gratification. Don’t. Need it, that is.
2. Sales do not equal success. Watched pots never boil. (Actually, they do, but by the time it happens you’ve already driven yourself insane and you’ll never know it.) Don’t watch your sales and rankings obsessively. Your success is not measured in such ways, no more than the worth of a castle is measured by the number of bricks you hold in your hand at one time.
1. You will succeed. You must believe in yourself, and that you’ll succeed; believe despite all other scary facts, poor advice, failures, faux successes, more failures, naysayers, friends who disappoint, talentless writers who miraculously succeed—focus on yourself and your own journey. If you have talent, and you work hard, and most importantly you persevere, you will succeed. No one knows when, least of all you.
Just do the work. Write, and write well.
Stay in the game.
About Rob Guthrie: R. S. Guthrie has been writing fiction for several years. Black Beast is the first in the series of Clan of MacAulay books featuring Denver detective Bobby Mac. L O S T is the second book in the popular Paranormal Mystery-Detective series and Guthrie is writing a third book that will close out the Clan of MacAulay trilogy (though it is not the final Detective Bobby Mac book).
The author finished his magnum opus—a Mystery/Thriller novel set against the backdrop of the contemporary West, entitled Dark Prairies. The story takes place in a fictional town in his home state of Wyoming and was published in 2012. A prerelease excerpt was featured in the June 2011 issue of New West magazine.
R.S. Guthrie currently lives in Colorado with his beautiful wife, Amy, three Australian Shepherds, and a Chihuahua who thinks she is a forty-pound Aussie. It is a widely known fact that the canines rule the Guthrie household.
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss my weekly posts! It’s easy, just enter your email address in the upper right corner of this page. I won’t share your email address with anyone!